Ramos brings experience to spot start

Rangers call on lefty for series finale with Blue Jays

Ramos brings experience to spot start

ARLINGTON -- Most Major League starting pitchers are creatures of habit, sticking to the same routines between starts, but the Rangers' starter Sunday, veteran Cesar Ramos, doesn't have that luxury. As a reliever making a spot start, he has to be adaptable.

"I just kind of wing it, day by day," said Ramos, who has experience going back and forth from reliever to starter, having made seven starts in 43 appearances for the Rays in 2014. "It's just kind of that role, and luckily I've gotten some experience doing that in Tampa. You just do what you can in between to stay sharp because you never know that game whether it's only going to be you go out for a hitter or you just go as long as you can."

He also has pitched against the powerful Blue Jays lineup plenty of times; he has a 3.38 ERA in 32 career innings against them, including 4 1/3 shutout innings in relief in Toronto on May 5.

"I feel like I know them pretty well and they know me pretty well, so it's going to be no surprise for them or me," Ramos said. "It's just a matter of executing and keeping them off-balance."

Ramos was available as an emergency long reliever Friday night, meaning he didn't know for sure until the game was over that he'd be starting Sunday. Manager Jeff Banister said he trusts Ramos to handle such uncertainty because of his background.

"That's why we like experience so much because guys have done these types of things before," Banister said. "I probably wouldn't do it with a young guy that's never done it before."

Prior to signing with the Rangers in January, Ramos posted a 3.70 ERA in 251 games, 241 of them as a reliever, over seven seasons. He has pitched three times for the Rangers, going 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA. He allowed four earned runs and walked three in two innings Monday in the Rangers' 12-inning loss to the White Sox.

Rangers Beat

Ian Desmond is now officially the Rangers' center fielder -- and for the last three games, including Saturday night against Toronto, their No. 2 hitter. He had played every inning of the past 23 games entering Saturday, batting .329 over that stretch.

Since Banister gave the then-struggling Desmond his only day off on April 16, he has a 1.002 OPS, nine doubles, four homers and 18 RBIs in 97 plate appearances. Desmond, who played in 927 games for the Nationals from 2009-15 before signing with the Rangers in the offseason, got off to a rough start in Texas, hitting .109/.180/.109 in his first 12 games.

But Banister said Desmond has carried himself exactly the same during the early slump and subsequent resurgence.

"This cat shows up with an intensity level when he walks through that clubhouse door, and it's about beating that team in the other dugout, and that runs hot and high every single night," Banister said. "He tries to exude that and he tries to bring guys along in that, and that's impressive because it's every day. It's been when he wasn't playing well and it hasn't changed."

• After a brief stop at extended spring training, Shin-Soo Choo will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock in Albuquerque on Sunday as he continues to recover from a right calf strain. Choo will likely be with Round Rock for three days before going to Double-A Frisco to continue the rehab assignment closer to home.

• Right-hander A.J. Griffin, who went on the 15-day disabled list last Sunday with right shoulder stiffness, said his recovery is "going in the right direction," though there's no timetable for his return.

"As soon as my arm feels good I'll start throwing," Griffin said. "Stuff's loosening up, it feels more free and the way it should feel."

• Catcher Michael McKenry, who was at Triple-A, exercised the opt-out clause in his contract and became a free agent. McKenry, 31, played for the Pirates when Banister was a coach there, but the Rangers had a number of catchers ahead of McKenry with Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday both on the Major League roster, Brett Nicholas having spent time with Texas already this season and Robinson Chirinos on his way back from a wrist injury.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.